No one wants to be that parent with the screaming kid.

This weekend I had my eyes opened for me and realized the experience of food doesn't begin or end with the ingredients. We do a lot of our shopping at the farmers' market, but there are things that we can't get there, so we make supermarket runs.

Yesterday I had my first Trader Joe's experience.

Yep, I've been resisting for a while and we needed to go grocery shopping, so off we went on a family trip. C fearlessly navigated the parking lot, secured M in a buggy and went on in; the music was blasting 80s new wave/industrial and M was dancing in her seat. Things were looking good.

Starting counter-clockwise and working our way through the store, we got as far as the cheese cooler (2nd stop past the checkouts then the beer selection) and the dancing turned into a toddler's desire to explore the saturated colors lining the shelves, temptation solidly and frustratingly within reach. Pulsating fluorescent lighting lent its oddly colored hand to the total sensory overload experience.  M was strapped into the buggy seat, unable to grab the colorful packaging; temptation turned into tantrum.

I called the shopping trip finished, asked C to check out and took M outside to run around and decompress. Outside we walked down the sidewalk of the strip mall, 2 doors down and she was back to her giggly, curious, actively engaged self.

Yes, I understand toddler fits are a natural part of growing up. I understand they happen out of frustration, emotion, and limited communication skills. Some parents think discipline is the way to stop a fit, but I don't see every tantrum as the same. I try to look at the situation (much easier to do with another adult around to give feedback) and assess: is the tantrum simply to get their way? Are they being tempted beyond their still-developing rationale?

Sometimes a temper-tantrum toddler is too much, and stepping back to look at the situation is an exercise in futility. No one wants to be that parent with the screaming kid.

What did I learn at Trader Joe's? There will be flying pigs in a frozen hell before I take Mabel to Traitor Joe's. The odds of me taking her by myself? Let's just say they're are even slimmer--the environment bred a need for 2 adults present: one to entertain while the other shopped.

That experience is exactly why I love the farmer's market--I walk there (no parking fiascoes for me!), shop at my leisure, have no buggies to battle, and generally no stopping mid-aisle to read labels, because you look at the food and know what is in it. Amazing concept, I know.

We made it out of TJ's and home again, home again. M and I sat in the shade and watched C build a boat. We ate cantaloupe, egg salad, and stacked blocks (aka architectural Corian samples I rescued from the trash at work). We enjoyed the air and the freedom to run around. Yep, even made it through a few of those toddler fits, but I have to say, in the fresh air they're much more manageable.

Anyone else out there with a similar experience? How do you handle shopping trips with an active little one?

I'm sorry for not getting around to posting on Friday here, but I did post on Modish.


ashley said...

Since I don't have experience shopping with a child that young, I can only offer a guess: Take along something to keep her occupied (busy book/toy), maybe?

But as a stepmom to 2 boys (5 and 7), I can vouch that it's not just Trader Joe's. I dread (and avoid if at all possible) taking them to Target and even Harris-Teeter. Stores totally know what they're doing when they put sugary things and toys on the lowest shelves! The hub and I have learned to have a shopping list ready and explain to that we're only buying what's on the list (not that they don’t still whine sometimes). We also try to distract them when we get to the checkout line (Target is notorious for putting Hot Wheels and other kid-appealing stuff there). But more importantly, we're teaching the 7-yr-old to save his money up to buy something he wants, and we’ll probably start that with the 5-yr-old next summer.

Misti said...

I haven't had the opportunity to shop with children much other than with my niece and she is good for the most part. Usually her metldowns are food or nap related.

I have only been to TJs in DC but loved them when I went. I know they aren't perfect but they had some neat things and stuff I wouldn't find elsewhere.

Thanks for the egg link. Will keep that in mind and bookmarked it!